Much of the classes I am taking this summer deal with our spiritual forefathers in a sense, and today gave me an opportunity to walk the streets, sit in the churches and cathedrals, and praise God for men that loved the Lord Jesus enough to be martyred for their beliefs. I hesitate to even begin to list some of the men I am talking about that walked the halls of various colleges and universities in the historic Oxford system for fear of leaving some out, nevertheless; John and Charles Wesley, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, Thomas Cranmer, John Wycliffe and many others.
For obvious reasons, today was nostalgic as I sat and ate lunch with our group in the historic Eagle and Child Pub where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien would regularly go to discuss theological matters. However today the most valuable place was a very simple cross in a road in the heart of Oxford where three men were martyred for their faith. I am including a link so you can read more about their stories. I am including an except from the story but urge you to take 5 minutes to read their stories: Speaking of Cranmer who was the archbishop of Canterbury,
“He (Cranmer) had believed, with a fervor that many people today will find hard to understand, that it is the duty of every Christian to obey the monarch, and that “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13). As long as the monarch was ordering things that Cranmer thought good, it was easy for Cranmer to believe that the king was sent by God’s providence to guide the people in the path of true religion, and that disobedience to the king was disobedience to God. Now Mary was Queen, and commanding him to return to the Roman obedience. Cranmer five times wrote a letter of submission to the Pope and to Roman Catholic doctrines, and four times he tore it up. In the end, he submitted. However, Mary was unwilling to believe that the submission was sincere, and he was ordered to be burned at Oxford on 21 March 1556. At the very end, he repudiated his final letter of submission, and announced that he died a Protestant. He said, “I have sinned, in that I signed with my hand what I did not believe with my heart. When the flames are lit, this hand shall be the first to burn.” And when the fire was lit around his feet, he leaned forward and held his right hand in the fire until it was charred to a stump. Aside from this, he did not speak or move, except that once he raised his left hand to wipe the sweat from his forehead.”
Article Link: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/269.html I am sure there are better articles for this that are a more full treatment of this, but this one is brief and will give you a little bit of history! Enjoy!
Again I am flooded with these questions in my mind like would I be willing to defend the faith at the price of my life? Would I be willing to recant my recantation and honor my Lord in the end should I have chosen foolishly? I like to believe that the Lord will sustain those who are truly His to the very end, Praise God! I was also just reminded of how grateful I need to be for the men and women that have stood for the faith generation after generation to as Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1-3, ” You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” In addition to that, the passage in Timothy where Paul implores Timothy to guard the good deposit of the Gospel…today I was privileged to walk one of the many streets of those who heeded Paul’s advice to Timothy to preserve the riches of the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The architecture was amazing and with every church and college I walked in I said to someone near to me, “I wish my brother was here….he would love this!” He is an architect for those who may not know. Oxford truly was breath taking on many levels and I am glad that I had the opportunity to walk the cobblestone roads of Oxford, England today praising my Father for His sovereignty in preserving the Gospel through faithful men. The picture I am posting is a picture of the actual pulpit where John Wesley and C.S. Lewis gave several sermons in St. Mary’s Cathedral. Arguably Lewis’ most famous sermon he preached from this pulpit was preached June 8, 1942 titled, “The Weight of Glory” if you are interested in it you can google it and download it for free.
One last note about the location of the pulpit; it is not the focal point in the church, in fact it is off to the side. In many Anglican and other denominations the Eucharist table is central whereas in almost all traditional Evangelical churches today, even bad ones :), the pulpit is central in the churches. The reason for the dispute is based on what is seen as most important for the church. In traditional evangelical churches the proclamation of God’s Word is the most common means by which the church is edified, sanctified, and the most common means of grace extended to sinful man. However, in churches where the Eucharist table is central it is usually so because the common thought is that is what is most important to the church. Many believe that the means of grace, that being the receiving of God’s grace comes through receiving of the Lord’s Supper. This is part of the doctrine of transubstantiation whereby the bread and wine are believed to literally become the actual body and blood of Jesus while retaining there bread and wine qualities. Many believe, though I disagree, that it is in the receiving of such elements that God dispenses his grace to man.
Romans 10:9-17, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”